This weekend I was very politely asked by a customer if I could really make a living at what I do. She'd always assumed that people just couldn't walk away from well-paying corporate jobs to become artists or craftpersons and expect to sustain themselves in any meaningful way. I did. "You must have benefactors." That's the only way a creative lifestyle and career can ever work, she implied. This all coming from a woman who after stating her presumptions, proceeded to buy a substantial amount of my "creativity" and encouraged the friends who accompanied her to do the same. Ironic isn't it? At the end of the day, it puzzled me more than it probably should have as to why she supposed my inability to support myself by making jewelry. Funny thing is, I encounter this viewpoint often. I think some believe the movie stereotype of an artist as some eccentric, lazy, egotistical, tortured tyrant that rises at the crack of noon, drinks nothing but black coffee and vodka, eats rarely and chain smokes cigarettes. It also doesn't help that there are many who feel products that are made by hand equal low quality therefore are inferior to those that can be purchased in the big-box stores. Truth is, some are. But the many wonderfully talented artists and designers that I've encountered in my journeys put so much of themselves into every item they create that putting forth a purposely inferior product into the world would be an act of artistic character defamation. The handmade/handcrafted artisan industry surely deserves a lot more respect.
As for myself, I took this dramatic turn into a creative life first to fill big, whopping holes and cavernous gaps in my soul. I went into this knowing that it would not be easy nor would it always be a safe, secure way of living, especially as I established myself. My comfort zones had to be obliterated. I took risks and I continue to take them every day because what I now do to earn a living is also what I love. And because I wake up in the morning with this incredible passion for my work, I'm able to create a life that is truly rewarding. Yes, I work harder now than I ever have and not all days are lined with puppy dogs and beds of fragrant red roses. But all that I have done to date has afforded me the ability to live a happy life. I am firmly rooted in the fact that my success or failure, however I choose to define that, depends on what and how much I'm willing to do to support my dream. I've chosen to have the creative audacity to do what's necessary to live in a manner in which I can hold my head high and share what gives me so much joy with those that can appreciate it. I couldn't ask for a better way to live.